Guilty Verdict for former Khmer Rouge Prison Chief

Al Jazeera’s Harry Fawcett reports from Phnom Penh, the capital of Cambodia.

A former Khmer Rouge prison chief has been found guilty of crimes against humanity in Cambodia. The verdict was reached by a UN-backed war crimes tribunal. The defendant Kaing Guek Eav, better known as Comrade Duch, was sentenced to 35 years in prison although the court later reduced it to19 years, taking into account time he’d already spent in detention. He admitted to being prison chief for Khmer Rouge’s leader Pol Pot and overseeing the deaths of up to 15,000 prisoners.

Local Reactions to the Verdict – BBC

The idea that a man who admitted overseeing the torture and murder of thousands of people might be free in 19 years was too much for some people who lived through the horrors of the Pol Pot era. At least one man left the court in disgust on hearing the sentence.

Chum Mey has more reason than most to feel bitter. He was held in the S-21 detention centre which Comrade Duch ran, and suffered regular torture; his wife and children were killed. Now he is one of only three confirmed living survivors of around 15,000 inmates. On the steps outside the court, he vented his frustration. “I ask if Cambodians are happy and the world is happy that millions of people died, a lot of money has been spent on the court – and the perpetrator is free [in 19 years]? I am not happy with that,” he said.

The verdict in the case of Duch was broadcast live on radio and television. / Photo: Reuters

Excerpt, read more: Tears and Disbelief at Duch Verdict – By Guy De Launey | BBC News

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